Findings post


Localism frames fashion as an integrated whole: garments, clothing practices, production, people, place – including unpopular parts; not reducible to single components. It orchestrates a whole system of fashion activity, broader than that seen through the lens of materials and production alone.

This makes fashion localism part practical infrastructure – supportive individuals, skills development, knowledge of where to buy materials, toolsetc.; and part conceptual leap – seeking to reimagine garment-related interactions and decentralised modes of production as valuable clothing activity.

It marks fashion localism out a collective process and long term garment-related dialogue concerned with sustaining the place it is in, which may take the form of products, brands or government policy. It is garment-related activity that is culture and nature improving. It sometimes contributes to economic growth.

For localism, size matters. Interactions and relationships between fashion and place are strongest at small scales. The dominance of globalisation has relegated local fashion actions largely to everyday fashion actions, experiences difficult to commodify and enlarge.

A total fashion system is reliant on a subterranean network of capabilities, goodwill, imagination, reuse networks and maintenance facilities within communities, much of which is hidden from view. The ‘below ground’ activity makes the ‘above ground’ fashion system run. The imperative of localism is to promote vibrant fashion communities above and below ground. The total system’s complexity has direct implications for the social and cultural robustness of a place.

The vectors of expansion of fashion localism begin with what is available. They shape a process of adaptation that serves to intensify ideas of what is important in a region and what can be done there.

Fashion localism is characteristic of a new wave of fashion and sustainability work concerned with systemic change. Dealing with the root causes of the environmental crisis – underlying socio-economic, political forces and growth logic, this new wave enters territory full of contingencies and complexity. It tries to open out, to adopt a progressively broadening systems view, for ever closer understanding of the real world.

In the Macclesfield case, emerging themes of fashion localism comprise: Material assets; Skills; Social assets; Flow and circulation; Edges; Participation.

More information about the findings is available in the paper ‘The Fashion Land Ethic: localism, clothing activity and Macclesfield’. The article can be downloaded via the Fashion Practice website. Should you have difficulties accessing the paper, please email Kate Fletcher for a copy.